Arthritis and fibromyalgia are two chronic conditions that can cause pain, fatigue, and limited mobility. These symptoms can make it difficult to follow an exercise program, which is essential to managing these conditions. This blog post will explore the frustrations of following an exercise program with arthritis and fibromyalgia and provide strategies to help navigate these challenges.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my Disney obsession if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied with Pixie dust and Mickey pretzels. It’s a win for everyone. I am not a medical professional, and nothing stated in this article should be mistaken for medical advice…
Understanding Your Limitations And The Impact That Arthritis And Fibromyalgia Has On Exercising:
Chronic illnesses and pain can have a significant impact on your physical abilities. Arthritis and fibromyalgia can impact the joints, muscles, and bones, leading to pain, stiffness, and fatigue.
It’s crucial to understand how these conditions affect your body and work with your healthcare provider to develop an exercise program that meets your specific needs.
Understanding your limitations and working within them to avoid exacerbating your condition is crucial. This may mean modifying exercises or reducing the intensity and duration of your workout.
Think about your attempts to follow an exercise program since your diagnosis. What movements were more difficult than others? Were there pains that lingered for days or weeks?
Journaling about my exercise endeavors has helped me recognize the limitations that my illnesses have created. It also revealed some surprising strengths.
Personally, I am most concerned about how much recovery time is needed after a workout. Time is precious when you live with an autoimmune disease. Loss of time due to brain fog and severe pain significantly impacts our lives. We don’t have spare time!
Finding The Right Program For Exercising With Arthritis And Fibromyalgia:
Finding the right exercise program can be a challenge for individuals with arthritis and fibromyalgia. Low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, and yoga are often recommended for individuals with these conditions.
On a good day, my knees have a five to ten-minute window before blowing out while walking. It doesn’t matter if I walk in water or on land; the result is the same. But instead of giving up, I began searching for alternative forms of exercise. One of my favorites is sofa yoga!
It’s important to find an exercise program that is tailored to your specific needs and limitations. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a certified fitness professional can help you identify the best exercises for your needs.
Coping With Fatigue And Pain:
Fatigue and pain are common symptoms of arthritis and fibromyalgia, and they can make it challenging to stick to an exercise routine. Strategies such as pacing yourself, taking breaks, and incorporating relaxation techniques can help make exercise possible.
Not all levels of fatigue can be pushed through. High levels of fatigue are the body’s way of saying it needs a break. Respecting what your body is saying is key! This is why I keep an exercise journal. Instead of just seeing blank dates on my calendar, I jot down why those days were missed. That way, it is obvious as to which days my body was too weak and which were skipped because I didn’t make the effort to exercise.
Having an effective pain management plan in place before you begin any exercise program is imperative. The inability to reduce pain results in more pain and less time exercising and being productive.
Staying Motivated While Exercising With Arthritis And Fibromyalgia:
Staying motivated is essential for maintaining an exercise routine, but it can be challenging when you’re dealing with chronic illness and pain. Setting realistic goals, tracking your progress, and finding an accountability partner or support group can help you stay motivated and on track.
My overly competitive nature has put a stop to exercising with others. It led me to exercise when I shouldn’t, all because I needed to prove I could. I also didn’t want to let my exercise buddy down. Both reasons led to physical exhaustion and injuries. Journaling and seeing my results is all the motivation I need. You, however, may thrive with an accountability or exercise partner.
The key to staying motivated is to get to know yourself better.
Addressing Mental Health Concerns:
Arthritis and fibromyalgia can take a toll on your mental health, leading to feelings of frustration, anxiety, and depression. Engaging in regular exercise has been shown to improve mental health. However, failing at one attempt of exercise after another can be detrimental to your emotional well-being! That is why it’s important to seek support from a mental health professional if needed.
This is an area that journaling can also help with. I quickly became discouraged every time I was stuck on bed rest from a severe abdominal flare (the result of endometriosis and a botched hysterectomy). But when I have my journal to look back on, I become motivated to pick back up once I have recovered. Chronic pain and illnesses have this wicked ability to blind us from the good we have done. That is why it is so important to have my progress and results on paper so I can easily see them.
Having a healthy attitude towards exercise is a must! Exercise isn’t evil. But it sure feels like one when we think of it as something that creates pain and takes away from our quality of life. By the way, if exercising does either of those things, it is time to find a new form.
Sometimes finding what works requires letting go of the past. For way too many years, I wanted to exercise like I did before my diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia. My body couldn’t keep up, and I lost my motivation to try again after a while. Before finding a form of exercise my body could tolerate, I had to readjust my idea of exercise to fit the limitations that my illnesses created, but that also highlighted my strengths.
If exercising has a negative effect on your mental health, please seek help to uncover why.
Following an exercise program with arthritis and fibromyalgia can be frustrating, but it’s not impossible. Understanding your limitations, finding the right exercise program, coping with fatigue and pain, and staying motivated are key strategies for navigating the challenges and achieving your fitness goals. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program, and be patient and kind to yourself as you work towards better health and wellness.
Need help finding which form of exercise is right for you and your limitations? Check out my printable Chronic Illness Exercise Tracker! It will help you figure out what works and what doesn’t. It may also reveal exercises that only work during specific seasons or when particular symptoms are flaring. Don’t wait! Get started today!